The Tallahassee Inter-Civic Council is pressuring local government to enforce a law that requires black history to be taught in Florida classrooms.
“My people don’t know anything about their history,” said Rev. William Foutz, president of the Inter-Civic Council Foutz. “This is very important for African Americans all over the state of Florida.”
According to Foutz, in 1994, Gov. Lawton Chiles passed the Bill 1003.42, which permits black history to be taught in classrooms.
“It’s a law to teach African-American history as well as the holocaust,” Foutz said. “In the state of Florida, African-American history is supposed to be infused in American history.”
Foutz said after the bill was signed, the African-American Task Force was put together by Doug Jamieson, former commissioner.
According to the task force’s Web site, the organization was created in 1994 to advocate for the state’s school districts, training centers and community.
Foutz said members of the force drew up a curriculum on how to teach and infuse African-American history in all 67 counties from K-12 in Florida.
Proctor said the law for teaching black history was passed but has not been enforced due to lack of funding.
Bernadette Kelly, chair of the African American History Task Force agreed. He said the statute was passed without funding from the government and until money is put into the bill, it will be enforced.
“The law passed without funding,” Kelly agreed with Proctor. “People cannot use what they do not have. So if you don’t have the literature or the textbooks or the know-how and the background, you can’t teach people about their history.”
Proctor stressed that all students in the public school systems need to be aware of this history and contributions made constructively and positively by black Americans.
“It’s history that occurred here,” he said, “but when you white out
history, or omit its presentation, its racism.”
According to Proctor, contributions of blacks include science, engineering, law, medicine, railroad coupling, shoes, the stop-light, refrigeration and blood plasma.
“The basic white child do not know [the contributions] nor the basic black child,” Proctor said.
Both Proctor and Foutz stress the importance of keeping black history alive in Florida’s schools.
“We’re asking for a non-distorted, fair representation of (what) we, black people, have done and we have done so much,” Proctor said. “We feel like the state of Florida is legally and morally obligated to implement the law. ”